10/24/08 9:59 PM EST
Much to love about Citizens Bank Park
A list of 15, to mark the number of years since Philly's last WS
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
1. The openness. It's pretty much the antithesis of The Trop, typical of the modern yards. Like Comerica Park in Detroit, it has an open main concourse (360 degrees) that allows you to constantly connect with the game. There is something soothing about being able to saunter around the park throughout a game and see the action wherever you are, whether it's ordering some of No. 4 below or exploring. If your fanny must be fixed for nine innings, then that's fine, too. The 43,500 seats are angled toward the infield by a combination of bowl geometry and redirected seating, and they do a fanny right.
2. The Phillie Phanatic. No matter where the Phillies play, this is always the next-best reason, other than the players themselves, that generations of fans have watched Phillies baseball games. If they played in a junkyard and the Phanatic was there, it would still draw a huge crowd. Any list of the best and most beloved mascots in worldwide sports starts here, and the Phanatic not only is on his game constantly but brings massive help to the community through appearances.
3. Perfectly manicured and crosscut Kentucky bluegrass, maybe just slightly worn in left by Pat Burrell. Memo to grounds crew: We love you.
4. Food and beverage. Naturally, you're going to want the traditional ballpark dog -- because it's baseball. But you gotta like some crab fries at Chickie & Pete's by the bullpens in the charming walkway known as Ashburn Alley. Also some pulled pork at Bull's BBQ, where former Phillies slugger Greg "The Bull" Luzinski is the daily host. Rick's Steaks in Ashburn Alley are straight from Reading Terminal Market, if you're looking for some of the city's trademark cheesesteaks, and same with Tony Luke's. McFadden's is a year-round restaurant and saloon that's become a central hangout, and you can't forget Harry the K's Broadcast Bar & Grille, which is located under the ...
5. Left-field scoreboard. It's just beautiful and it makes you feel good looking at it. That's all you can really say about it. The gorgeous red PHILLIES script logo is perched on top, much like the INDIANS script logo over in Cleveland, and for a night game, it stands out luminously. After all, this is where the Declaration of Independence was signed by our forefathers on July 4, 1776, so a prominent script pronoun matters. The home team has a penchant for lighting up this scoreboard as well.
6. The Liberty Bell Home Run Spectacular. That's what they call it. Not just the Liberty Bell. This one is 50 feet high and 35 feet wide, and it's neon and it swings and rings after Phillies home runs. The bell is suspended 100 feet above street level.
7. The fans in left field let opposing players know who is in charge: Them.
"I've always been entertained by the Phillies fans, the Philadelphia fans in general, whether it's the Eagles, the Flyers, etc.," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who hails from nearby Hazleton, Pa. "I used to watch them on TV. ... I have a lot of respect for the Philly fan or the Philadelphia fan in general, because he's so into his group. And I know they live and die by it. It is religious here."
8. Hall of Fame club level. We especially love the hundreds and hundreds of baseballs all side-by-side forming a whole stretch of one wall there, and also the "quote wall." It is actually listed as "Cooperstown Gallery -- A Tribute to the Fans" -- and here are just some of the quotations cited from past Hall of Fame inductions:
"I'm going to quote Casey Stengel, 'No one or two people could have done all this.' God bless, and especially the fans. You have made this the greatest day of my life." -- Richie Ashburn, July 30, 1995.
"Memory is baseball's fourth dimension, and I know the memory of this day will be with my family and myself forever and thank you so much. You're very kind." -- Steve Carlton, July 31, 1994.
"I am just very thrilled to be here this day. Thank you very much to so many people for this great event." -- Robin Roberts, Aug. 9, 1976.
9. Outfield planters. Take a good look at the edge of the home run wall that provides spacing between player and fans. It is filled with beautiful flowers. Watching baseball is kind of like stopping to smell the flowers, and in this case, you get to do both.
10. Breathtaking views. You're sitting up in the third level of the right-field home run seats, and looking out toward that left-field scoreboard, you notice that the sky beyond it is as red as the Phillies' colors. Also, the open outfield allows a scenic view of the Center City skyline. There are views of the field from street level, when you aren't gazing at those oversize action shots of larger-than-life players in the concourse.
11. "The Angle" -- that quirky stretch of wall between left-center and center. Remember how it importantly turned a Manny Ramirez two-run homer into an RBI double early in the National League Championship Series? That stretch of wall also is nearly 20 feet high. Like the old days, it's nice to break up the symmetry a little in baseball.
12. Seventeen elevators and three escalators. If the Cubs were in this World Series and trying to end that 100-year drought, some of us would still be panting from climbing the ramp all the way to the Wrigley Field press box. Hiking is a charming thing, perhaps, but this is livin'.
13. The double-decker bullpens. And being oh-so-close to the relievers out there if you're a fan in Ashburn Alley.
14. Phillies Ballgirls. They not only have spirit, but they also can flash some leather down in the corners of foul ground on each side. Maybe you saw Sam making a dazzling Top 10 play one day this summer on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight." The Phillies Ballgirls have one of the most popular MLBlogs, and one of the pregame highlights is their video on that giant left-field scoreboard on which they all say "EJECTED!" as a note of caution to any fans who might get out of control during a game. What, Phillies fans?
15. There is a World Series being played here starting with Game 3 at 8 ET on Saturday night. Game 4 is Sunday and Game 5 is Monday. Wherever baseball is still being played this year, we love that ballpark. But this ballpark ... what's not to love? It has guys like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Brad Lidge playing there in 2008. It has seats that are coveted by the masses, and they are sapphire blue and perhaps about to get a little wet during Game 3. That's all right. We love that grounds crew and the Phanatic, too.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.